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Hitch your wagon to a lizard: dist-upgrading openSUSE

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For the first time, openSUSE now officially supports a "dist-upgrade" feature, similar to Debian's. Which is to say, if you've got openSUSE 11.1 installed, you should be able to upgrade to openSUSE 11.2 by updating your list of software repositories to point to providers of software for openSUSE 11.2, doing a distribution upgrade via the Internet, and have a reasonable chance of success.

The stated reasoning behind the addition of this feature seems to focus on competition with Ubuntu. Fine then; although the openSUSE installation media's offered the option of updating rather than installing for a while now, it was always a hit and miss affair; usually more miss than hit, so that doing a clean install was often necessary. (One obvious reason is that the installation media only provides a few software repositories; if you had a whole bunch of online repositories active prior to installation, you probably had software installed that wasn't even on the installation media. Novell also seems to be admitting that its software management tools weren't up to the task until now.)

The easiest way to upgrade from openSUSE 11.1 to 11.2 is via the command line. However, that doesn't make for very exciting screenshots, so I elected to install a YaST module named "wagon" that does the same thing. It failed about halfway through the process, and I had to go back to the command line. If you use "wagon," I hope your results are better than mine! Here's the play-by-play.

(Two things of note: They say that the more repositories you have enabled, the greater the chance that a distribution upgrade won't work. And my screenshots of KDE and GNOME won't look like what you see if you install openSUSE out-of-the-box, since I've re-decorated.)

Step 1: Install "wagon" via YaST.

Step 2: Disable and/or update existing software repositories to their openSUSE 11.2 equivalents.

(This was tedious but mostly meant changing a "1" to a "2" in the repo's URL.)

Existing repository New repository
Gnome:Backports:2.6 (openSUSE v11.1) No v11.2 equivalent. Disable.
Gnome:Stable:2.6 (openSUSE v11.1) Gnome:Stable:2.8 (openSUSE v11.2)
server:monitoring - v11.1 v11.2
Packman - v11.1 v11.2
openSUSE BuildService - Mozilla - v11.1 v11.2
openSUSE BuildService - Virtualization (VirtualBox) - v11.1 v11.2
openSUSE BuildService - KDE:Community - v11.1 v11.2
openSUSE BuildService - KDE:Backports - v11.1 v11.2
openSUSE BuildService - GNOME:STABLE (v11.1) No 11.2 equivalent. Disable.
openSUSE BuildService - GNOME:Community - v11.1 v11.2
NVIDIA repository - v11.1 v11.2
Main Repository (OSS) - v11.1 v11.2
Main Repository (NON-OSS) - v11.1 v11.2
openSUSE BuildService - KDE:Core Packages - v11.1 v11.2
openSUSE-11.1-Updates v11.2
home:ecanuto (Gnome colors icons) - v11.1 Factory
home:cyberorg:experimental (Fusion icon) (v11.1) No v11.2 equivalent. Disable.
Qt 4.5 - v11.1 v11.2
Qt 4.4 - v11.1 v11.2
KDE 4 Playground - 11.1 v11.2
KDE 4 Community - 11.1 v11.2
KDE 4 Core Packages - 11.1 v11.2

Step 3: Run "wagon." (Alt+F2 brings up the "run" dialog box in KDE. Command: "kdesu -c yast2 wagon")

Step 4: Follow the prompts.

Fixing dependency errors.

Updating zypper and friends.

Step 5: At this point, the problems started: windows with nothing in them. After several full-sized blank windows came up, another one came up that I couldn't close. I finally used xkill on "wagon".

Step 6: At this point I gave up on "wagon," started up a Konsole session, and used the "zypper dup" command. After answering a few dependency solver questions and accepting the openSUSE license, it was a matter of sitting back and waiting...

Step 7: I'm not sure how long the upgrade took (had to catch some zzzZZZ's) but it was over 3 hours. The only steps left to do were to run the "SuSEconfig" command and reboot.

KDE 4.3.1

GNOME 2.28

KDE 3.5.10

The only thing I had to do afterwards was to use YaST's "/etc/sysconfig Editor" to change the session manager from "kdm" to "kdm4". Apparently openSUSE 11.1 used a KDE 3-based login manager, and so I got an ugly login screen upon reboot. The only thing that's broken is PulseAudio, GNOME's sound server, which is now often belching static when changing the volume level or playing system sounds. Otherwise, everything seems to work OK. Good job, Novell.

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They actually refer to "Debian/Ubuntu" in terms of compatibility. No just Ubuntu.

Also, the feature of being able to do said upgrade is a feature made prominent and possible by APT. Which is the mainstay package management core tool in Debian, and consequently Ubuntu.

Because Opensuse uses zypper and not APT was one of the main reasons they could not offer said compatibility.

other rpm based distros do offer an online update/upgrade capability, such as PCLOS, because they use a tool like (in PCLOS's case, APT4rpm).

Up until recently, zypper did not have this functionality built into it.

Big Bear


OpenSUSE is trying to copy Ubuntu. Apt is like Zypper in a sense, that it manages packages and that is the type of functionality that OpenSUSE wishes they could have. That is why Slackware is built in with prominent reasons of use, like PCLOS did first. I hope that OpenSUSE can catch up to Debian in this sense.

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